Guest Post: Hail the Kale!

March 18, 2011

Hi there, lads and lassies!  Hope you aren’t feeling too poorly this morning after mugfuls (bucketfuls?) of green beer yesterday?

No matter. I’ve got a different kind of green love coming for you today, courtesy of my dear friend Kelly. As soon as Kelly confessed her love of the tomato sandwich, I knew we were kindred souls.

Kelly has mind-blowing energy and a huge heart. She blogs…well…all over the place, but her home plate is The Miller Mix.  I love going there for her unique blend of humor, storytelling, perspective and Chicken Love. It’s a heady combination.

I know you’ll find her as charming as I do.

Although after my epic fail with Kale Chips, I must say that I’m a little jealous of the way she knows her way around a green. Sniffle.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers and give a warm welcome to Kelly!


All Hail Kale

Growing up in the South, my memories include heaping plates of crisp fried chicken, tangy potato salad, warm tomato sandwiches on thick white bread with plenty of Duke’s mayo, salty-sour collards swimming in vinegar, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits dripping in butter… okay, you get the picture.

But when my mind slides into those delicious memories, the settings have one thing in common: Those delicacies were always served someplace other than my house.

The reasons are various: My sister has Cystic Fibrosis and can’t digest fats so we had lots of baked chicken and boiled vegetables. Also? My mom can’t cook. Like, at all. She is famous for burning water. She once threw one of her biscuits at a guy and gave him a black eye. True story.

Starting around age 11, the cooking duties fell to me and my limited repetoire of spaghetti, chicken, brinner, soup, and tacos. I’d often make my best friend cook (and clean) for us and she’d whip up culinary delights with a head of lettuce and a bottle of ketchup — but the rest of us were useless. To this day I do way too much of my cooking in the microwave and the thought of standing in front of the stove for longer than a few minutes at a time gives me the shivers.

So you can imagine how fish-out-of-water I felt when my hubs and I decided to turn over a healthier, more local leaf and signed up for a CSA. I decided to go big or go home and ordered all manner of crazy foods: sunchokes, tatsoi, and kale (along with my standard cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes). The sunchokes were a bust. The tatsoi was basically spinach.

And then there was the kale. You wouldn’t think a vegetable with a super-thick spine and gnarly leaves would inspire so many, but it’s totally the new black. Mitchell and Cam were eating it on Modern Family. The Bravermans fell in love with it on Parenthood. And this Miller got brave one evening and cooked the crap out of it.

Guess whose family are kale-eating pros now? When I mention that kale will be on the night’s menu, my children actually high five each other. They exclaim “Ooh, is this kale!” when it turns up in soup, spaghetti, and brinner or when it sits right beside their chicken. (Yes, the repetoire hasn’t changed much.) This leafy vegetable is that good — and good for you. It’s packed with beta carotene, vitamin K, and vitamin C, and rich in calcium. Kale is also an anti-inflammatory and has anti-cancer compounds.

But at first glance, the vegetable is pretty scary. Here’s how to tame it and get it ready for any dish you’d like to throw it into:

Grab a leafy stem and pull the leaves together, exposing the spine.

Rip the leaf away from the spine.

Tear or cut the leaf into bite-sized pieces. I go with a rough tear, but you could cut them much smaller.

Toss into your soup, saute with chicken stock for a quick and easy side dish, add to your eggs, or bake with olive oil for chips:

Don’t forget to come back and tell Kitch what delicious dish you pepped up with kale (and be on the lookout for more mentions of the green on your favorite shows)!

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelly March 18, 2011 at 6:03 am

Thanks for having me Kitch! My mama would laugh heartily if she knew I was posting anything related to cooking. But, then again, I do own a cookbook just for microwave cooking. :)


Lyndsey March 18, 2011 at 6:19 am

Hi Kelly, nice to meet you. I was wondering why Kitch was praising kale! I made crispy kale and we enjoyed it (never wanted to admitt that to TKW) :D I usually use spinach in this way, but those are some good ideas for using kale. Do you use it on sanwhiches or should it be cooked? and can you freeze kale? Just wondering.


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

I have frozen it, but then it’s only good for cooking because of the wilt factor on thaw. But I’ve thrown frozen kale into soups and eggs without anyone tasting a difference.

I only recently gathered the courage to try kale raw. Before that, I lumped it into the collards category — only to be cooked. However, it’s pretty tasty in a salad. Definitely try it!


jacki March 18, 2011 at 7:04 am

What the heck is “brinner”?


TKW March 18, 2011 at 8:21 am


I wondered the same thing! Kelly, do tell!


Dana March 18, 2011 at 11:17 am

I imagine brinner is breakfast for dinner; pancakes or other breakfast food in the dinner timeslot.


jacki March 18, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Oh, okay. That kinda makes sense. Except for the part where she incorporated kale into brinner. That part is still confusing. I can’t imagine eating any sort of leafy green as a breakfast food. Kale pancakes? Kale oatmeal? I guess a kale omelette doesn’t sound too weird.


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

Definitely a kale omelet. Or kale sauteed with tomatoes and ham. Or kale as a bed for fried tomatoes and grits on the side. Lots of ideas!

Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:48 am

C’mon guys! Brinner definitely = breakfast for dinner. I either put it in eggs (as you’d do with spinach) or sautee it as a side and eat it with grits. You’d be surprised how well grits go with pretty much anything.

I rarely eat pancakes for dinner, so there’s no issue of super sweet and then the savory greens. It’s always eggs and some meat (steak, often) plus grits, biscuits, and gravy. Yum!


Winn March 18, 2011 at 7:14 am

Sounds nummy.

I did this crazy thing once. I was visiting a friend and she was showing me through her garden, showing everything she had planted. And just before we got to the tobacco (yes, she tried “growing her own”… in northern Alberta, no less) I see this big green leafy plant. I ask what it is. She replies she has no idea because she didn’t plant it, it just grew. I picked it and nibbled; it seemed okay and more importantly, I was still alive. I picked a huge bunch and made a big salad that everyone ate. Turned out it was kale or a close relative. I still like it raw in salad. Weird, huh? (Thank goodness I didn’t pick the tobacco!)


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:51 am

Very interesting! I wouldn’t have the courage to just eat something raw like that, but what a fun discovery. My mom and her family like to pick “poke greens” that grow wild along the side of the road. You just never know where you’ll find something tasty!


BigLittleWolf March 18, 2011 at 8:30 am

I swear – you can make ANYTHING look good!


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:52 am

Perhaps Kitch’s talents rubbed off for just this once?


Jenna March 18, 2011 at 8:31 am

I just discovered kale as well!! I’ve only used it in soup so far, but I’ve been wanting to try kale chips ever since I heard their glories lauded on TastyKitchen. I didn’t know it had so much health packed inside it–now I’ll get to it all the faster. =)


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:53 am

Good luck with the chips. I’ve heard they’re hit or miss. We liked them with a little cajun seasoning. My sister tried to make them and said they were gross.


Katybeth March 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

I have never had kale but it does not sound to terrifying. I won’t ask why Kale, Kelley? but WHY NOT Kale! and we will try some this weekend.

My the power and goodness of kale be with us all this weekend. Thank you for sharing.



Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:54 am

I like your attitude! Let’s just say that the first time I told one of my friends that I was going to buy kale, her eyes bugged out. She had only used it for displaying other foods during her catering years and thought it wasn’t for eating. Go figure!


bryan March 18, 2011 at 10:50 am

Kelly, good to see you here! I always enjoy your insight. Me I really love Kale, I haven’t tried it on my kiddos but if yours are doing high fives at the mention maybe it is time to give it a try at home.


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:56 am

The high fives aren’t an exaggeration, either. Javi always eats it first before he tackles the rest of his meal and it’s one of the only vegetables Bella will put in her mouth. Try it cut smallish and cooked in something they really like. That will get them hooked!


Dana March 18, 2011 at 11:18 am

Kale is so good in soups. I have a friend who puts it into breakfast smoothies, but I’m pretty sure I’ll stick to it appearing in salads and soups.


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:57 am

It’s definitely good in soup. I love that it keeps its bite, unlike spinach that turns to mush.

If I could get around to make smoothies for breakfast, I’m going to try it!


Rudri Bhatt Patel @ Being Rudri March 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

As a vegetarian, I thought I had tasted all the veggies. Kale is not one I have had. But no more. Buying kale and cooking it Kelly style (minus the chicken broth).


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:58 am

Vegetable stock!

Seriously, I had to learn to make my own chicken stock because I use it so much. For a non-cooker like me, it’s an essential ingredient to every meal!


Cathy March 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

What does Kale taste like? Is it bitter? I always imagined it bitter. And, thanks for the photos, I never knew how to prepare it either.


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 10:59 am

It’s not very bitter, though I do usually use only a flavored vinegar with it when eating it raw, so I like things that are more on the bitter side. When cooked, it’s not bitter at all. Sometimes, when I use red bell pepper, it’s actually on the sweet side.


Mary Lee March 18, 2011 at 3:27 pm

I never had kale when I was growing up in the South, but lord knows I had plenty of collards and turnip greens. When we moved to Wisconsin, I noticed something green peeking out from under the snow (well, it WAS early November!) in our neighbor’s yard. She told me it was kale. As the supermarket carried only heads of pale lettuce back then, I felt like she had saved my family from serious vitamin deficiencies.

Later I found out they could grow collards up there. They just didn’t want to.

Thanks for bringing up some memories, Kelly!


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:00 am

I never had kale as a kid either. And can you imagine my surprise when I realized there were other ways to prepare greens than with fat back and then smothered in vinegar? It was a whole knew world!


Camilla March 18, 2011 at 3:46 pm

Hi Kelly, that is great your a family who eats kale. I first discovered it when I lived in Chicago and loved it. A lovely lady taught me to cook it with ginger, onions and lots of fresh tomatoes and it is to die for.
It was great to read you!


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:01 am

Yum! Now that’s a recipe I could add to my repertoire! Do share.


Yuliya March 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm

We just made sausage, bean and kale soup! All hail kale indeed!


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:02 am

Hey – that’s what was pictured in this post! Well, I add red potatoes for a starchier taste, but it’s just sausage, beans, kale, potatoes, corn, and diced tomatoes. Yum!


Belinda March 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Children high-fiving each other because kale is on the menu? Wow! I’m impressed. And here I thought I was queen of the green leafy when my 4yo son declared how much he loves brussels sprouts…drenched in butter (is that cheating?)…I actually really like kale but don’t use it in any of the dishes I make. Thanks for the gentle nudge.


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:03 am

My hat’s off to you. I am terrified of cooking Brussels sprouts, though my sister loves them and eats them all the time. Here in the South, we don’t think a meal is a meal if a stick of butter isn’t involved — so I can’t call it cheating!


Christine @ Coffees & Commutes March 18, 2011 at 5:07 pm

How I love coming to a favourite place and finding another favourite person. I love you both.

In full disclosure, I’m not sure I would even recognize kale at the grocery story. And I KNOW my children would not high-five over it.


rebecca @ altared spaces March 20, 2011 at 7:52 am

This is where I was until my friend gave me some out of her garden and PATIENTLY taught me how to treat it: much the same way you’ve done here in this series of photos. Now? Yum. Especially in salad. I don’t know why but the stuff makes me feel like a super hero.


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

It’s usually in the same area as cabbage (kale is in the cabbage family) and the leaves look just like pictured above. Try serving it in small pieces in their pasta or putting dressing over it for salad. That’s how I got Bella to try it. Once she knew it wouldn’t kill her, she was willing to try it in more dishes.


Dawn King March 19, 2011 at 4:34 am

I tried making kale chips and failed miserably. But I think in soup it might be good. Maybe even other ways as well. It IS sort of scary looking. And I too want to know what brinner is too!


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:05 am

Brinner = breakfast for dinner. Soup is always a good idea. You really can’t go wrong!


Barbara March 19, 2011 at 8:33 am

I’ve used kale in soups… and have really been wanting to make crispy kale. That’s next on my list.
Nice guest post!


Pam March 19, 2011 at 2:47 pm

We have lots of kale around here in the markets and it’s great. It looks delicious in your soup and I like it sauteed with garlic also. Great little demo with stripping the kale!


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:07 am

Glad you liked it! Seeing someone else do it always helps me gather the courage to try.


Lanita March 20, 2011 at 8:21 am

Funny you should mention kale, I just came across a recipe for kale just the other day and I thought I’d give it a try. But just one question, not being from the south, what is brinner?


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:08 am

I don’t think brinner is a Southern word. It’s a Scrubs thing and I thought I was being hip by using it. Guess not! ;) Brinner = breakfast for dinner.


Heather March 20, 2011 at 10:47 am

I used to feed Kale to my rabbit, does that count?? Not a huge fan but am always willing to try something new :) Glad you stopped by! Though, I’m pretty certain I gained 10lbs just reading your first paragraph! Being from the good ‘ole south myself I know the flavor and… ahem… calories that go with that meal! I was salivating though!


Kelly March 20, 2011 at 11:09 am

I left out descriptions of the pork barbecue or fried fish or … well, you know!


Maria March 20, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Kelly, So good to see you here and venturing into the world of kale. We love brinner too, as sometimes, scrambled eggs and hash browns is all this mom is good for.

Thanks for the ideas for the kale…it might be a hard sell in this house, all around…


GoodEnoughWoman March 20, 2011 at 9:26 pm

I love me some kale, and I’ll throw it in just about any kind of soup. But I definitely need to branch out. Or leaf out. Get it?


Thanks for the inspiration!


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